Düsseldorf, May 22, 2008 – Cuba, Spain and Chinese Taipei joined host Germany in Düsseldorf on Wednesday as the excitement started to build ahead of the Men’s World Olympic Qualification Tournament in the capital of North-Rhine Westphalia, with the teams coming into the tournament with varying degrees of success in their preparations.
The Germans, who have been in the city since May 18, play Chinese Taipei in the opening match at ISS Dome on Friday at 5 p.m. before Spain plays Cuba at 8 p.m. local time.
The four teams are competing for the one coveted ticket up for grabs for the Beijing Games.
There has been a mixed bag of preparations ahead of the tournament, which just adds to the excitement. Chinese Taipei, a young up-and-coming team who finished eighth at the 2007 Asian Championship, will be competing against reigning European champion Spain, who played Italy twice during their preparations and lost both matches 3-1.
Cuba competed in a tournament in Slovenia and recorded three defeats (3-2 and 3-1 to Slovenia and 3-1 by Portugal) and one win (3-1 over Portugal).
The Germans finished their preparation by losing two friendly matches to the USA. Besides “normal” training in the arena and fitness centre, the German team also have taken part in some team-building activities. Together with team psychologist Dr. Wolfgang Kloeckner, the players tried their luck on tightropes at Lake Unterbach and cooked their own dinner Wednesday evening.
Central blocker Stefan Huebner of Treviso in Italy has participated in all team activities. He has been carefully increasing training intensity after tearing muscle fibre in his left calf and was aiming to be among the final 12 players nominated on Wednesday evening in order to help the Germans book a ticket for their first participation in the Olympics for 36 years.
The two other Men’s World Olympic Qualification Tournaments take place in Espinho, Portugal, from May 30 to June 1, where one team from four will qualify, and Tokyo, Japan, from May 31 to June 8, where the winner of the tournament plus the best Asian team (even if the winner is Asian) will qualify.
Portugal hosts Indonesia, Poland and Puerto Rico, while Japan hosts Algeria, Argentina, Italy, Australia, Korea, Iran and Thailand, in the tournament that doubles up as the Asian Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
The Women’s World Olympic Qualification Tournament is ongoing in Tokyo, Japan, with eight teams competing for the final four berths for the Women’s Olympic Volleyball Tournament.
Match schedule in Düsseldorf, Germany:
* All times are local
Friday, May 23
Chinese Taipei vs. Germany (17:00)
Spain vs. Cuba (20:00)
Saturday, May 24
Spain vs. Chinese Taipei (17:00)
Cuba vs. Germany (20:00)
Sunday, May 25
Chinese Taipei vs. Cuba (12:00)
Germany vs. Spain (15:00)
Information about the Men's World Olympic Qualification Tournament in Düsseldorf is at: www.volleyball2008.de
There is a press conference for journalists with the four Head Coaches Stelian Moculescu (Germany), Orlando Samuels Blackwood (Cuba), Marcelo Mendez (Spain) and Jung Hsiang Chang (Chinese Taipei) at the Renaissance Hotel on Thursday, May 22, from 9:30 p.m.